For Bradley Adams, co-founder of The Gratitude Guys, his first entrepreneurial experience didn’t start with a big idea.
Instead, it began during his time at Bryant University as a student, “being exposed to different types of people,” he said. It was there he was able to learn to feel comfortable pursuing new ideas and considering ways to change the world. “College is the perfect time to give it a shot and start something up on your own.”
Ironically, it was in the midst of that pursuit that the idea for his current startup came to be. “Me and my partner, James Imrie, the other Gratitude Guy, were both very active and very busy, very highly motivated,” Adams said. “What was kind of funny about that, [was that] it led us to forget about important things.”
They began looking at famous folks who were both “grounded but still progressive” — think Oprah, Richard Branson, Tim Ferris. They found that they all shared a common priority: making time to be grateful. “It’s an easy way to ground yourself and have a positive mental state,” Adams said.
From there, they considered how they could bring gratitude into their lives and the lives of others in a straightforward and organic (yet impactful) way.
The team eventually settled on jewelry. They reasoned that for many, wearing one’s favorite pieces was akin to a “religious experience,” rife with deep meaning. “Everyone has that memento they can’t go a day without,” Adams said.
From there, the Gratitude Guys designed a line of bracelets in-house, all intended for style and comfort, but also to inspire thoughtfulness and thankfulness.
“We were looking at what was going on [in jewelry]: good, simple, but classy design,” Adams said. “We really like the idea of natural stones and solid copper beads itself. They catch your eye as well, [and it’s] … simple enough, elegant enough, to start a conversation.” The bracelets come in white and black, and are $15 each.
Adams, who also serves as lead storyteller and head of manufacturing and product development, is one-third of The Gratitude Guys’ team, with Imrie heading operations and distribution and Marissa Bothelho leading marketing and social media. Together, they have bootstrapped the whole project, with additional capital coming from the products they’ve sold thus far.
While a viable product is obviously important to the company, The Gratitude Guys place equal emphasis on making sure their work matters — and so far, the feedback from consumers has been affirming. Adams said that their bracelets have been integral in costumers “building relationships and repairing them,” and are often given to friends or loved ones as an expression of deep affection.
In fact, one of their most meaningful customer testimonials comes from a customer named Jessica. Her cousin was undergoing cancer treatment, and The Gratitude Guys sent her a bracelet to give to her relative. “When I opened the package to see that you had sent my cousin going through the hard time the very first white bracelet, I cried at my dining room table,” she said in a letter to the company, which was eventually published on their site.
Adams said his team and their friends has been personally affected by the message of their work, too. “I think sometimes millennials get a bad rap for being entitled, or too focused on themselves,” he continued. “What’s interesting … was how much positive feedback we got from our friends.” Now, he finds those in his circle challenging each other to share what they’re grateful for, and focusing on the positive.
“It’s more the logistics,” Adams said. “Success is measured by the amount of people we can help find gratitude in their lives.”